At some point every sane person who experiences a modicum of success in their field will experience that thing called “Imposter Syndrome.” You feel like you’re not worthy, not good enough, you’ll be found out, every one knows you actually suck/are terrible/not what you promised to be. In my own work I’ve put off projects, missed hard deadlines and made editors mad because I didn’t deliver on time. But it’s not about laziness and it’s definitely not that I expect the project to complete itself. It’s imposter syndrome.
Intellectually, I know I can do the work. But sometimes I have trouble believing I can do it, that it will be good, that people will care or be interested. I felt this way all the way through undergrad and certainly in graduate school.
“They’ve made a huge mistake! I’m going to be kicked out any day!”
Funnily enough, imposter syndrome is something that women and minorities experience more often than most. And that’s because we suddenly get access to places we’re not actually meant to be, so we worry we’ll be found out and kicked out.
But I’ve got news for you: if you’ve made it this far you’re not an imposter. You’ve definitely got something to contribute and people want to know what it is.
Remember these 8 things if you struggle with imposter syndrome.
1. You’re There For A Reason
Here’s the thing about success. You’re there for a reason. You didn’t get noticed or hired or offered a book deal because you’re just some joe on the street. You’re there because you’re good at what you do and because someone believes in what you have to contribute. Success isn’t a fluke. It happens to you over and over and over again, and that’s got to mean something.
2. You’re Not “Getting Away” With Anything
The number one thing people who suffer from “imposter syndrome” say is they feel like they’re “getting away” with whatever success they’ve earned. “Getting away” with something means being sneaky, that somehow at any moment you’ll be revealed as the imposter you are. But you’re not an imposter. You have to believe in yourself and trust what you have to offer.
3. You CAN Do This
The thing that always keeps me from finishing a project is the worry that I “can’t” do it. This doesn’t mean that it’s too difficult or that it literally cannot be done. But it does mean you have to put the work in to show yourself that you can do it. You’ll be amazed at the things you can do when you put you mind to it, as cliché as it sounds.
4. Everyone Is Excited About What You Are Doing
When you’re feeling down and like you “can’t,” remember that everyone is excited about your project. That’s why they keep asking you how it’s coming, when you’ll finish. Use their excitement as proof that you will do it.
5. Give Yourself Less Time To Finish Than You Think You Need
Time is a double-edged sword. Extensions are great but there’s nothing better for a project than giving yourself less time to finish it than you think you need. There will always be articles or books to include in your research and there will always be inspiration or something else that seems “life changing” and like you have to include it right now. But actually, if you give yourself less time to finish you’re forced to focus, problem solve and come up with creative theories on the fly.
6. Imposter Syndrome Is Good Because It Means You’re Not An Entitled Brat
In some ways, imposter syndrome is a good thing because it means that you’ve received recognition you weren’t anticipating. Can you imagine what it must be like to imagine everything you do is going to be brilliant? Where’s the creativity and, really, the humbleness in that?
7. You’ve Earned It
You really have.
8. But No One Will Know How Interesting You Are If You Never Finish
You just have to wake up, commit and get to work. Kick imposter syndrome in the nuts. .